BRADENTON, Fla. – Jung-ho Kang played the field for the first time on Monday, and today he’s increasing the workload. Pirates’ Head Athletic Trainer Todd Tomczyk said that Kang will not only play defense today, but will also hit and run for the first time. He will be restricted in the running, with no hard left turns, meaning he will be running to first base only. That said, there is one exception to the first base rule.

“When he hits a home run, he’s cleared to trot around the bases,” Tomczyk joked.

Tomczyk said that Kang is cleared to play defense at this point, with no restrictions on his movement. He obviously still has some things to build up on the offensive side.

Here are the other injury updates from big league camp, with exclusive prospect updates below.

**Elias Diaz has been dealing with right elbow discomfort. He’s still not throwing, but Diaz said he wouldn’t need surgery. This is something that Diaz has felt in the past, but not to this extent.

“He’s felt a little bit, but not enough to disable him or not being able to play,” Tomczyk said.

**Jared Hughes is still dealing with a left lat strain, and isn’t throwing yet. He is expected to start the season on the disabled list, although there has been no official word on that yet.

**Gregory Polanco was dealing with right shoulder discomfort, but is back in the lineup today, with no restrictions and no reservations, according to Tomczyk.

**Jordy Mercer is currently away from the team, dealing with conjunctivitis.

Prospect Updates

**Stephen Tarpley is currently down with an oblique strain, and will miss the start of the Bradenton season.

“[I’m] just sticking with the recovery process,” Tarpley said. “It’s going to be a day by day type of thing. Everything is feeling great. They’re really taking care of me in here.”

The current plan is for Tarpley to strengthen the injured area, and prevent a future injury during the season. There’s no timetable for his return, and the Pirates aren’t rushing this.

“I’m chomping at the bit right now,” Tarpley said at starting his season. “I’m kind of driving myself crazy, since it’s so close to breaking camp. It’s a day by day type of thing. It’s not something to rush.”

**Cole Tucker is now hitting in games, but still hasn’t been cleared to play defense. He’s making throws in practice, and he’s fielding in intrasquad games, but isn’t throwing during the games. He’s not sure when he will start that phase, although his fielding work in practice has increased.

“My ground ball routine is kind of the same as everyone else’s at this point, so that’s kind of nice, getting back to feeling normal again,” Tucker said.

**Wyatt Mathisen is recovering from his sore shoulder, and expects to throw in the next week. He said there’s no concern about shoulder surgery.

“It’s starting to feel better. It’s slowly starting to feel good. I think we’re going to throw in the next week or so, to get back into baseball stuff.”

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28 COMMENTS

  1. Everyone please remain calm and keep your hands from getting too excited and hurting yourself.

    But we’ve got multiple sources confirming Nicasio to the rotation, Vogelsong as the long man. I repeat, there are baseball Gods and they took it easy on us for once after they stopped laughing at us paying Ryan Vogelsong.

  2. Injury Update: PiratesProspects Commenter Darkstone42 is dealing with right wrist discomfort. It will not limit his article scrolling or internet commenting, however.

  3. I don’t know folks…cleared to trot around the bases after a home run, but no hard turns rounding first. Count me as a guy who is a bit worried that Kang’s full recovery will take more time than late April and, even worse, there is a chance he may not come all the way back to where he was before the injury. This guy is extremely important this year and for the future.

    • Well, he DID hit a HR today, so maybe when he comes back that is all he is going to hit? 🙂

      Seriously, he had a similar knee injury to Aki Iwamura and we saw what happened to him. So, I am concerned right along with you.

      • Iwamura’s situation was much different. it was obvious he had limited commitment to his rehab. He was overweight and out of shape when he reported to the Pirates. That, as many will recall, is why he rode the bus at AAA for the last few months of his career. Kang is a total different story. Buy all accounts he has been incredibly committed to his rehab. The results so far prove it. He looks to be in fantastic condition considering what he has been through.

        • I think without knowing the medical details nobody can compare the two, on either side of the debate. Big leap to pin it on commitment to rehab, and also a big leap for leefoo to be concerned about Kang using Iwamura as a benchmark.

    • This is just due to the amount of work he is putting in today and the build up to full strength. He was running the bases the other day, when Tim posted video. But all he did that day during the game was play defense. Now just days later, he is playing defense and batting, plus running to first base, so that’s a big difference in just days.

      • Also, it seems like the “baby steps” approach to Kang’s rehab is more extreme caution on the Pirates’ part, than it is an indication of Kang’s current health status. I could see it being late April or early May for THAT reason, more so than it being due to him not being back to full health sooner than that. That’s a complete guess on my part, obviously.

        • They are definitely taking it cautious with him, partly due to the fact he is still five days away from being placed on the DL. So they know they have a minimum amount of time before he can even return, which takes away some of the rush to get him back to doing everything.

          Today is clearly a big step though, he has no limitations on defense and he’s hitting off live pitching, plus he’s running. The video the other day showed that he can run the bases, they just aren’t letting him do it full speed. Some people confuse what he can do, with what they let him do as part of his rehab.

  4. “Conjunctivitis”

    Almost fooled me with that one. Half a second of “when did Mercer get hurt”.

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